Punishments and consequences are not the same

  • It is important that as our children grow up, they become aware that all of their actions have consequences, so that from early on they assume responsibility for each of their actions.
  • A consequence is not the same as a punishment. A consequence is something that happens as a result of a particular action. For example, forgetting the umbrella at home on a rainy day may result in you getting wet for not bringing an umbrella. If a child forgets his jacket at home, the consequence will be that he will not be able to use his jacket at school.
  • On the other hand, a punishment would be something like a teacher making a child write over and over again "I must not forget my things." Additional examples of punishments may include: asking the child to sit in a corner for having forgotten the jacket, or asking his parents to give the jacket away since he forgot it in the first place (and they want their child to learn a lesson).
  • Punishment is not a consequence; it is a premeditated strategy to avoid a behavior. It is imposed by adults to usually obtain an immediate result; not because a child has understood the lesson, but because fear is being used.
  • One way to teach our children about the consequences of their actions is to allow them to experience and see for themselves what happens or might happen after they have done something. Open questions can also be used to make them think about the way they feel, or how they think others feel about a specific behavior. This is a strategy for children to understand that everything has a consequence without the need to use punishments.
  • Consequences instead of punishments will make children understand what they did and anticipate what will happen if they repeat the same act. They can also decide whether they want to change what they did to obtain a different consequence, or repeat it and obtain the same result.

Raquel Roa

Assistant Director of Professional Development

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